Cover songs again. First up, I mentioned Tetrastar’s “Soulja Boy” in a previous post. Well everyone should go to their website and download the free album Songs We Didn’t Write. If Dragonforce, Jonathan Coulton, Modest Mouse, Sparks, and System of a Down cover versions weren’t enough to tempt you, there’s an almost sacrilegious yet strangely brilliant cover of Hallelujah as well. Plus the mindblowing “4 Chord Song”.
Last, a cover version found in a really odd way. I was listening to the Dandy Warhols 2003 album Welcome to the Monkey House for the first time in ages. At least I was until partway through the opening title track when I noticed the lyrics:
When Michael Jackson dies
We’re covering Blackbird
And won’t it be absurd then
When no one knows what song they just heard
Unless someone on the radio tells them first
So on a whim I googled “dandy warhols blackbird”, and it turns out they kept their promise. And it’s pretty good too: The Dandy Warhols – Blackbird
I hate the song in the title of this post. Hate it with a passion. I honestly think it might be the worst song I’ve ever heard, representing all that is terrible about modern music, and made worse by its bizarre popularity and almost omnipresence during 2007.
Well, that goes for the original anyway.
But replace the horrendous steel drums with a beautifully fashioned electronic backing (including almost 8-bit sounds), get a sweet young woman singing the bizarre lyrics, and dress up a dog for the video, and you get this. I couldn’t believe anyone could make this song listenable, let alone loveable, but they have.
And then just the other day I found this. It’s proof of Devo’s sheer awesomeness that they can make Soulja Boy sound good. I honestly can’t stop listening to it.
Ok, I’ve backed myself into a corner – today’s song has no lyrics to use as a title. But the above words are closely associated with it these days, because this is the theme music of Sir Digby Chicken Caesar!
Originally composed for the BBC Radio serial Dick Barton, this brilliant tune has since been used all over the place including Monty Python, kids TV show ZZZap!, and of course That Mitchell and Webb Look.
And as if it wasn’t awesome enough already, here it is being played by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
Not good enough for you? Well here’s one of the greatest pieces of video game music ever, “Monty on the Run”, composed by the godlike Rob Hubbard. Listen, and you’ll hear that Devil’s Gallop was a huge inspiration. And marvel at the fact that this tune was all done to be played on the ancient Commodore 64. Rob Hubbard – Monty on the Run Theme
Regularly cited as the best computer game music ever, this has rightfully been covered many times. This version is great, just look at his fingers flying about that keyboard!
Mike Gravel is an interesting guy. A former US Senator, he entered the 2008 Presidential campaign, first attempting to secure the Democratic nomination and later switching to the Libertarian party. From what I’ve read and seen he seems really smart with a great platform, but he never stood a chance. Partly because his proposals were too radical, but also because his campaign just didn’t have the funding that’s so vital in American politics. Playing on this he launched it with a charming poster made by his granddaughter (“Vote for Grandpa Mike”). He also made a few popular YouTube videos, one of which was this version of The Beatles’ “Helter Skelter”
The guy behind the music and video is rx2008, who was also responsible for the brilliant cutups of other politicians singing along to popular songs, including Bush doing Sunday Bloody Sunday. Plus he’s written some great songs of his own: did somebody out sugar in my tea? is one of my favourite tunes ever.
Space were a wonderfully eccentric band, according to Wikipedia they were once described as “Black Grape gone flamenco and sung by a man who can’t decide between cartoon Mexican, Ray Davies and Cypress Hill”. Despite this they were fairly successful, having a few big hits in the 90s, but sadly they seem to be largely forgotten these days. This cover definitely deserves to be remembered. Space – We Gotta Get Out Of This Place
A couple of great covers by modern rock groups today. First “Word Up!”, one of the funkiest songs around. The original came out in 1986, but still sounds incredibly fresh today. Korn gave it their own touch on their Greatest Hits: Volume 1. Korn – Word Up!
Next is Placebo’s great cover of “Daddy Cool” by Boney M. This is from the special edition of Sleeping With Ghosts, which came with a whole bonus disc of Placebo cover versions. Placebo – Daddy Cool
Now this is a cover I have been trying to track down ever since I heard about it. Cherry Ghost are one of my favourite bands and I can’t wait for their new album. This was part of BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge, where bands often do interesting covers. There’s even a few official compilation albums of them, but this doesn’t appear on any of them, which is a pity.
And now for another in my irregular series of cover version posts. This time featuring a song that’s very close to my heart: “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” by Vampire Weekend.
I bought Vampire Weekend’s album for maybe the most uncool reason possible: it was recommended on Countdown. Yes, the daytime game show, which I was watching at my grandparents’.
Actually that’s not strictly true. I had heard it before when a friend played it to me, and I absolutely loved it. But then much alcohol was consumed and I entirely forgot about this wonderful album. So a few months later when Jeff Stelling out of the blue mentioned it on Countdown, it came back to me. I grabbed it as soon as possible. It was only then I realised that one of their tracks (“A-Punk”) was the theme to the excellent Inbetweeners.
I genuinely think every track on the album is great, and it’s not very often I feel that way. But “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” is a particular favourite, partly because the lyrics remind me of a certain girl who I was very close to. That all ended quite bitterly, but of the songs reminding me of her, this one somehow always makes me feel positive. And of course it’s great musically too.
The first cover is a slightly unusual choice, since it ditches the lyrics I love so much entirely. Vampire Weekend have obviously been greatly inspired by African and African-influenced music, and this takes that one step further by replacing the lyrics with African chanting. I’m not sure if this can strictly be called a cover version, but it is absolutely great and extremely cheerful.
The Very Best (Esau Mwamwaya & Radioclit) – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa: